Reaction has poured in from law enforcement leaders in our region who’ve watched the footage that authorities in Tennessee released Friday night. It shows five Black police officers in Memphis beating an African American man who later died.

On Saturday, January 7, Tyre Nichols was pulled over for alleged reckless driving. As he’s pulled out of his car and forced to the ground, the 29-year-old can be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything!”. Nichols is never shown driving recklessly in the released footage.

He gets up and runs away as the officers try to turn him over onto his stomach, with at least one officer trying to use a stun gun on him. A short time later, five officers are shown beating him for three minutes. Nichols can be seen lying on the ground after that next to a police vehicle, with no one either helping him or offering to do so. He died in a hospital three days later.

All five Memphis police officers who beat Nichols — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith — have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. Each man is also charged with aggravated assault, official oppression, two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of official misconduct.

Vermont State Police director Col. Matthew Birmingham writes in part:

“It is beyond appalling that officers who should be protecting and serving the public instead beat a man to death after a traffic stop. These officers failed in their basic humanity, betrayed their oaths, and tarnished not only their own badges but those of police officers everywhere.”

Burlington Police Acting Chief Jon Murad notes in part:

“I watched the videos with other police, all of them aghast. The videos showed what courts will likely confirm it to be: murder. It did not look like policing as I know it; it looked like criminality run amok. I condemn it. It sickened me.”

Meanwhile, New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli observes in part:

“Their actions are damaging to the work that has been done to rebuild trust between police and the communities they serve. We are outraged and sickened, and we also understand the frustration being felt by the public.”

Memphis-area officials have said they delayed the video’s release so that suspects and witnesses couldn’t tailor their statements to investigators based on what the footage shows. Once they decided upon Friday as the release day, they felt it would be best to release the video late in the day, after schools were dismissed and most people were home from work, given the likelihood of protests.